Mighty Wind, A (USA; 91 min.)


directed by: Christopher Guest
starring: Bob Balaban; Christopher Guest; Eugene Levy; Catherine O'Hara,
A Mighty Wind
 
Bruce says: "This sweet film is another offering form the 'Christopher Guest repertory company.' It is the story of three musical acts, all has-beens who are brought together to perform one last time at a memorial service in honor their former booking agent, Irving Steinbloom. The show is being organized by Jonathan Steinbloom (Bob Balaban) who is constantly bickering with siblings Elliott and Naomi. Few films are packed with so much humour, overt and deadpan. Every frame is filled with some visual or verbal jab at some aspect of the recording industry and performing arts. My enjoyment of the film was limited to some extent by my lack of interest in the subject matter. A MIGHTY WIND is a more subtle and gentle take on its subject than was Guest’s last film, BEST IN SHOW (which by the way was focused on dogs and dog shows, two of my favorite subjects).

"The New Main Street Singers are a group of nine, some new and a few leftovers from the good old days. The new members include Laurie (Jane Lynch) and Terry (John Michael Higgins) a couple who practice some blend of new age ritual and witchcraft. She was formerly a sex worker who has mended her ways and whose talents, the musical ones, have been discovered. Sissy Knox (Parker Posey) is the daughter of one of the founders and is pleased as punch to be part of the group

"The Folksmen are three guys:(Mark Shubb (Harry Shearer), Jerry Palter (Michael McKean who has taken over the role of Edna Turnblad from Harvey Fierstein in HAIRSPRAY on Broadway) and Alan Barrows (Christopher Guest). As they rehearse their repertoire including their signature piece, 'Old Joe’s Place,' the trio tries to reconstruct how their music evolved and how things used to be. None of the three remembers anything in quite the same way.

"Mitch and Mickey are the heartbeat of the film. Eugene Levy, co-writer plays Mitch who has been institutionalized since the break-up of the famous duo. Mickey (Catherine O’Hara) is married to a hospital supply salesman and happy to be out of the spotlight. The two of them reluctantly agree to a reunion and begin rehearsing. The ghosts of their old romance return to haunt them as they practice 'A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow.'

"Finally the memorial begins. Not everything goes as smoothly as planned. The New Main Street Singers begin the concert by singing one of the Folksmen’s songs spinning that trio into a dither, and Mitch disappears. Not to worry, everyone comes together to sing 'A Mighty Wind,' and all is well – it is the birth of second careers for everyone involved.

"Filmed with Guest’s patented mockumentary style, this is truly an old fashioned feelgood movie. This film is genre-driven not guided much by plot or focused on depth of character. 3.5 cats"

 

Hilary says: "The humor is a bit more genre-specific as in the brilliant WAITING FOR GUFFMAN rather than BEST IN SHOW (which I think had a broader appeal) but is no less enjoyable. I've seen it twice already -- once to laugh freely and the second to catch things I'd missed by laughing so hard. Guest continues to impress me with the attention to detail he brings to his films.

One note for watchers of 'Six Feet Under,' the contrast between Catherine O'Hara's manic, brittle Hollywood agent, Carol, from earlier this season and her portrayal of Mickey shows how truly talented she is."

 
Marilyn says in response to Hilary: "I totally agree...nothing matches Guffman but this is funny in a quiet way...In an interview, Guest said all the dialogue is ad lib...they create the characters and the background thoroughly, set the stage and go....maybe two or three takes....the concert scene at the end was done as a real concert with a live audience. Lots of fun..."
 

Michael says: "Okay, so it's not eligible for Chlotrudis consideration, but I thought I'd weigh in on the latest delightful mockumentary by Christopher Guest (WAITING FOR GUFFMAN; BEST IN SHOW). A MIGHTY WIND tackles the folk music scene in the guise of a reunion concert featuring some of the biggest names of the '60's folk boom. The Folksmen and Mitch & Mickey join the New Main Street Singers (a younger generation of the Main Street Singers) in a concert in homage to Irving Steinbloom, the producer of all three groups in the '60's, who has recently passed away. The concert is organized in a mere two weeks to take place in New York City's Town Hall, one of the greatest concert venues in the world.

As in Guest's previous films, A MIGHTY WIND follows true documentary style, with interviews intercut with candid scenes, 'historical footage,' and performance footage of the concert itself. While not as laugh-out-loud funny as WAITING FOR GUFFMAN, WIND succeeds by take itself seriously. The humor is gentle and lingering. This movie is exactly the documentary that would have been made had these people been true figures. The performances (by Guest vets... Eugene Levy, Michael McKean, Catherine O'Hara, Harry Shearer, Parker Posey, Bob Balaban, and Guest himself) are spot on. The music is wonderful... who knew there was so much musical talent in this bunch? My favorite moments involved the buxom and flat-out weird Jennifer Coolidge whose very presence onscreen had me giggling. The soundtrack is spectacular as well." 4 cats